NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery launches first-ever digital archive

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NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery launches first-ever digital archive
Areej Kaoud, Unknown Safety. Courtesy The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.

ABU DHABI.- As the world continues to practice physical distancing amid the current global pandemic, The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery invites the public to virtually reunite with artists and curators from its past exhibitions, and re-trace those exhibitions through the Gallery’s first-ever digital archive.

TRACE: Archives and Reunions is a series of ten events and archive releases that will enable viewers to digitally explore each of The NYUAD Art Gallery’s past exhibitions every two weeks over the course of the summer. Launching on Monday, May 18, each exhibition’s archive will include a range of material, such as the youth guides, illustrated by a local artist and developed by Assistant Director of Publications Alaa Edris; book publications; installation photos; videos; brochures; and audio guides.

Audiences can virtually join a series of events in which curators reunite with artists for a conversation to revisit their past exhibitions at The NYUAD Art Gallery, as well as their current and future work. The inaugural event reunites the UAE-based artists from Speculative Landscapes.

The first archive to launch will be that of Speculative Landscapes. Curated by Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery and the University’s Chief Curator Maya Allison in 2019, this exhibition featured four newly commissioned installations by UAE-based artists. Areej Kaoud, Ayman Zedani, Jumairy, and Raja’a Khalid have established reputations in the UAE, and have continued to gain international attention since this exhibition.

Every installation in the exhibition offered both a physical and metaphorical landscape of the artist’s projected world. Working from observations of life in the UAE and beyond, these artists today continue to reflect back on our surroundings through: the lenses of risk (Kaoud), virtual reality (Jumairy), human-plant relations (Zedani), and the intersection of marketing with our metaphysical body (Khalid).

The virtual reunion with all four artists and Allison will be held on Monday, May 18 at 9pm via Zoom. The conversation will explore what the artists are working on now, where they are, and how they are experiencing this new era that has emerged since their exhibition closed last December.

Commenting on the launch of TRACE: Archives and Reunions, Allison said: “Since we opened The NYUAD Art Gallery and Project Space in Fall of 2014, the UAE’s art world has continued to evolve rapidly. Six years in the UAE is a long time, and for any new organization, the first five years mark a key milestone, for reflecting on what comes next. We decided to gather together all that we have made, published, and accomplished in this time, into a book publication to arrive this Fall.”

She added: “I think of this project as creating a handbook of the gallery’s first six years, similar to the handbooks of the collection that museums release. Ours will include the main gallery’s exhibitions, the Project Space shows, the Christo Award, the campus collection, and the many milestones along the way. As 2020 marks 10 years since NYUAD welcomed its first incoming class, this is the time to do so. When the COVID-19 closures happened, our team knew almost immediately that this was the time to put online all the archival material we have been gathering, to allow audiences to retrace our history, even as we all pause and consider our future. And, we all miss each other. I want to talk to our artists and curators, and check in, and these launch events will make it possible also for audiences to join me in reuniting, and checking in, with our past collaborators.”

TRACE: Archives and Reunions will eventually lead up to the launch of a six-year anniversary publication, one that will act as a retrospective of The Art Gallery’s journey since its inception.

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